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Housing market

Napa home prices up, sales down: multiple offers, over asking price, common

Lani Cooke has been selling Napa Valley real estate for more than 35 years, but 2021 has been one for the books.

“I’ve never seen a market like this,” she said. “Nothing seems to sell for where it’s listed,” said Cooke. “Almost everything seems to be going over (asking price) whether a little or a lot. It’s crazy right now.”

“Everything we have listed lately in the 800s or 900s has all gone well over asking,” and with multiple offers, said Cooke, who works with Golden Gate Sotheby's International Realty.

Napa homes that don’t require major repairs or remodels are starting in the mid-$700,000 price range “and going up from there,” she said.

There’s just not enough inventory to satisfy demand, said Bradford Simpkins with ReMax Gold.

“Prices in the 500s and 600s are almost nonexistent,” said Simpkins. “If it’s priced appropriately, it’s gone in 30 days.”

According to Bay Area Real Estate Information Services, the median sold price of a Napa County home rose 16.5% year-over-year, from $721,000 in July 2020 to $840,000 this July.

At the same time, the number of homes sold has dropped, from 198 to 139, year-over-year.

Cooke currently has a north Napa home listing close to that median price. Located at 1040 Bella Drive, it’s a mid-century modern home, in original condition, with vineyard views. The home was listed last week for $825,000.

During two open houses, “we got bombarded,” she said. “They just kept coming. It was just crazy.”

Many visitors were locals but some came from San Francisco and elsewhere, she said.

By Tuesday the owners had seven offers. They have since countered four of them.

Cooke described another Napa home she recently had listed for $895,000. It received multiple offers and sold for $1.295 million.

“It was just a four-bedroom tract house but in decent shape and in a court with a pretty yard,” she said.

“There seem to be a lot of people out there with a lot of money and if they like the house they don’t care what they paid for it,” said Cooke. There’s almost “no rhyme or reason.”

There are a few indicators. Interest rates are so low “that money is practically free,” she said. “So many people have been allowed to work from home and they went to get out of the congested areas and have a place in our valley.”

Simpkins also has a listing close to that median price. Located at 2295 Adrian St., the current asking price is $849,000.

However, the home has yet to be sold. The realtor thinks it’s because buyers are hesitant about the multifamily housing complex next door.

That could be short-sighted thinking. Unlike other homes that would sell for that same price, or higher, and then need renovations, the Adrian Street listing is move-in ready, he said.

Simpkins said one common thing he’s seeing in the market today is “old Napa leaving and the Bay Area (buyers) coming.”

“The people leaving have all their money is tied up in their house,” he said. They’re leaving the valley because they can’t afford to move up, or stay, in Napa.

The realtor said Napa buyers should expect multiple offers if the property is under the median and appropriately priced.

And downtown “is red hot as ever.”

Downtown buyers want an older home with character and walking distance to downtown dining, he said. 

As he sees more and more second-home buyers coming to Napa, Simpkins had this warning.

“We are becoming St. Helena-tized,” he said. “That’s what we’re getting here as we turn our focus from serving Napa and serving the world as a tourist destination.”

Statewide, California’s housing market moderated for the third straight month in July with both home sales and prices tempering from the heated market conditions seen over the past year, while still staying above pre-pandemic levels, the California Association of Realtors (CAR) reported.

Closed escrow sales of existing, single-family detached homes in California totaled a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 428,980 in July.

July home sales dipped 1.6 percent on a monthly basis from 436,020 in June and were down 2 percent from a year ago, when 437,890 homes were sold on an annualized basis.

July’s sales level was the second-highest level in a July in the past six years. Despite the downward trend, California home sales maintained a solid year-to-date increase of 27.3 percent.

“The California housing market continues to normalize from the white-hot conditions we experienced at the height of the pandemic with both sales and prices moderating as we slowly transition from the peak home-buying season into the fall,” said CAR President Dave Walsh.

“The market remains solid, however, as sales were still the second-highest level for a July in the last six years, and the statewide median price continues to perform above last year’s level by double-digits. Housing supply, while improved, remains tight and market competition is still heated with homes flying off the market in record time.”

After setting record highs for the past four consecutive months, California’s median home price slipped 1 percent on a month-to-month basis to $811,170 in July, down from June’s $819,630 and up 21.7 percent from the $666,320 recorded last July. The median price in California remained above the $800,000 benchmark for the fourth consecutive month.

Despite dipping slightly from its record peak set in June, California’s median price remains elevated as supply constraints continue to provide upward pressure to support home prices, said CAR Vice President and Chief Economist Jordan Levine.

“However, home prices should ease as housing inventory improves in the third quarter and the market continues to normalize during the traditional off-season.”

Buying a home for the first time is an important milestone and in 2020, 40 percent of all US single-family home purchases were made by first-time buyers. Here’s what experts think first-time buyers should focus on. PennyGem’s Johana Restrepo has more.

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Business Editor

Jennifer Huffman is the business editor and a general assignment reporter for the Napa Valley Register. I cover a wide variety of topics for the newspaper. I've been with the Register since 2005.

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